Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation Supports Community Through Comprehensive Programs

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation Supports Community Through Comprehensive Programs
Topics Community SpotlightDiversity, Equity and InclusionWSFS Culture

From its start as a grassroots organization 55 years ago, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) has grown to support the community through a variety of initiatives and avenues.

“We have an interesting beginning; PCDC was established in 1966 in response to the proposed Vine Street Expressway expansion because it would have demolished the Holy Redeemer Church and School,” said John Chin, Executive Director, PCDC. “The organization mobilized the Chinatown community and was able to save Holy Redeemer, and since then has become the leading community development organization for Chinatown.”

With a mission to preserve, protect and promote Chinatown as a viable ethnic, residential and business community, PCDC provides comprehensive bilingual programs and projects, including neighborhood planning, community organizing and advocacy, the Chinatown homeownership initiative, economic revitalization, and family and youth services.

WSFS has supported PCDC as a sponsor of the annual Chinese New Year Banquet since 2010. In 2021, the event was held virtually, but was still able to bring together hundreds of Philadelphia’s community development champions to celebrate the growth of Chinatown and raise awareness of PCDC’s work to empower the community.

“Support from WSFS further bolsters our operations and programming to ensure the longevity and sustainability of our work in equitable development, housing and rental services, financial empowerment, and small business recovery and assistance,” said Chin. “The support is vital for our efforts to help our low-income community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic; provide programs for youth, adults and seniors; and other urgent health and housing goals.”

The pandemic has only increased the importance of PCDC’s work through programs like the Chinese Immigrant Family Wellness Initiative (CIFWI).

“CIFWI addresses the urgent mental and emotional wellness needs of students and families during the pandemic and amid increased discrimination against Asian communities,” said Devon Stahl, Communications and Development Associate, PCDC. “CIFWI provides tailored community mental health care and emotional wellness resources as well as addresses systemic intergenerational trauma. PCDC provides programs in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, which is important to ensure they’re accessible.”

PCDC has also partnered with SunRay Pharmacy, an independent, Asian-owned Pharmacy, to run its Crane Chinatown COVID-19 Vaccination site, which has helped register and vaccinate 1,400 eligible, vulnerable Chinatown residents, seniors and workers who otherwise could not navigate the city’s COVID-19 vaccination program due to language and digital barriers.

“Through support from partners like WSFS, PCDC was able to expand capacity to continue to provide language-accessible and culturally-appropriate COVID-19 relief to serve our low-income, limited-English proficient, immigrant community in 2021,” said Stahl. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and working with others in the community to further support our programs and projects through donations and volunteerism.”

PCDC provides a number of other important programs such as the Chinatown Homeownership Initiative, which offers hundreds of low-income Philadelphia residents resources to increase housing stability and prevent displacement. The organization also helps with digital and financial literacy through a six-month financial wellness program and numerous other recreation and wellness initiatives through its Crane Chinatown Community Center that opened in 2019.

The “Ai Love Chinatown” campaign launched in August 2020 also helps address the urgent needs of Chinatown’s small business community, including providing PPE supplies, bilingual assistance, and helping with applications for business grants and COVID-19 relief funds.

“WSFS is proud to support PCDC and the great work it does to support the community,” said Vernita Dorsey, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Strategy, WSFS Bank. “For more than half a century, PCDC has been providing important resources and those efforts have only increased during the pandemic. We look forward to working together to continue to support the community.”

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